About Cardiff, Wales
Cardiff is the capital and largest city of Wales. It forms a principal area, officially known as the City and County of Cardiff, and the city is the eleventh-largest in the United Kingdom.
Immerse yourself in the Welsh capital this Autumn – cosy up in the city and immerse yourself in the culture, enjoy the range of entertainment happening or take time to unwind in one of the scenic natural beauty spots.
The city is bustling with exciting new events and attractions suitable for all ages and budgets. Discover everything to see & do, from touring a gothic fantasy castle to zipping around a rafting course at an exhilarating speed at Cardiff International White Water.
Why not make a city break of it and rest your head in one of the incredible spa hotels, or bunk up in a budget-friendly hostel. Feast on delicious dishes in one of many independent eateries, or munch on some old favourites at the big name restaurants we all know and love.
Located in the south-east of Wales and in the Cardiff Capital Region, Cardiff is the county town of the historic county of Glamorgan and in 1974–1996 of South Glamorgan. It belongs to the Eurocities network of the largest European cities. A small town until the early 19th century, its prominence as a port for coal when mining began in the region helped its expansion. In 1905 it was ranked as a city and in 1955 proclaimed capital of Wales. Cardiff Built-up Area covers a larger area outside the county boundary, including the towns of Dinas Powys and Penarth.
Cardiff is the main commercial centre of Wales as well as the base for the Senedd. At the 2021 census, the unitary authority area population was put at 362,400. The population of the wider urban area in 2011 was 479,000. In 2011 it ranked sixth in the world in a National Geographic magazine list of alternative tourist destinations. It is the most popular destination in Wales with 21.3 million visitors in 2017.
Cardiff is a major centre for television and film production (such as Doctor Who, Torchwood and Sherlock) and is the Welsh base for the main national broadcasters.
Cardiff Bay contains the Senedd building (home to the Senedd, the Welsh Parliament) and the Wales Millennium Centre arts complex. Work continues at Cardiff Bay and in the centre, on projects such as Cardiff International Sports Village, BBC drama village, and a new business district.
Cardiff is widely regarded as being the city with the most castles in the world. The most famous amongst these is Cardiff Castle, which has stood for nearly 2,000 years at the heart of the city.
Cardiff is bordered to the west by the rural district of the Vale of Glamorgan, also known as the Garden of Cardiff, to the east by the city of Newport; to the north by the South Wales Valleys, and to the south by the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel. The River Taff winds through the city centre and together with the River Ely flows into the freshwater Cardiff Bay. A third river, the Rhymney, flows through the east of the city directly into the Severn Estuary.
Cardiff lies near the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, stretching westward from Penarth and Barry – commuter towns of Cardiff – with striped yellow-blue Jurassic limestone cliffs. The Glamorgan coast is the only part of the Celtic Sea with exposed Jurassic (blue lias) geology. This stretch of coast with its reefs, sandbanks and serrated cliffs was a ship graveyard; many ships sailing to Cardiff during the industrial era were wrecked on this hostile coastline during west/south-westerly gales. Smuggling, deliberate shipwrecking and attacks on ships were also common.
Cardiff is home to the Welsh media and a large media sector with BBC Cymru Wales, S4C and ITV Wales all having studios in the city. There is a large independent TV production industry sector of over 600 companies, employing around 6,000, with a turnover estimated at £350 million. Just to the north-west of the city, in Rhondda Cynon Taff, the first completely new film studios in the UK for 30 years are being built, to be named Valleywood. The studios are set to be the biggest in the UK. In 2011 the BBC completed the Roath Lock studios in Cardiff Bay to film dramas such as Casualty, Doctor Who, and Pobol y Cwm.
Cardiff has several regeneration projects, such as St David’s 2 Centre and surrounding areas of the city centre, and the £1.4 billion International Sports Village in Cardiff Bay, which played a part in the London 2012 Olympics. It features the only Olympic-standard swimming pool in Wales, the Cardiff International Pool, which opened on 12 January 2008.
According to the Welsh Rugby Union, the Principality Stadium contributed £1 billion to the Welsh economy in the ten years after it opened in 1999, with around 85% of that staying in the Cardiff area.
Other major tourist attractions are the Cardiff Bay regeneration sites, which include the recently opened Wales Millennium Centre and the Senedd building, and many other cultural and sites of interest, including the Cardiff Bay Barrage and the famous Coal Exchange. The New Theatre was founded in 1906 and refurbished in the 1980s. Until the opening of the Wales Millennium Centre in 2004, it was the premier venue in Wales for touring theatre and dance companies. Other venues popular for concerts and sporting events include Motorpoint Arena, St David’s Hall and the Principality Stadium. Cardiff Story, a museum documenting the city’s history, has been open to the public since the spring of 2011.
Cardiff has over 1,000 listed buildings, ranging from the more prominent buildings such as the castles, to smaller buildings, houses and structures. Cathedral Road was developed by the 3rd Marquis of Bute and is lined by fine villas, some backing on to Sophia Gardens.
Cardiff has walks of special interest for tourists and ramblers alike, such as the Centenary Walk, which runs for 2+1⁄4 miles (3.5 km) within Cardiff city centre. This route passes through many of Cardiff’s landmarks and historic buildings. The Animal Wall, designed by William Burges in 1866, marks the south edge of Bute Park on Castle Street. It bears 15 carved animal statues.
A large number of concerts are held in the city, the larger ones at St David’s Hall, the Motorpoint Arena (previously known as the Cardiff International Arena) and occasionally the Principality Stadium. A number of festivals are also held in Cardiff, the largest being the Cardiff Big Weekend Festival, held annually in the city centre in the summer and playing host to free musical performances (from artists such as Ash, Jimmy Cliff, Cerys Matthews, the Fun Loving Criminals, Soul II Soul and the Magic Numbers), fairground rides and cultural events such as a Children’s Festival that takes place in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. The annual festival claims to be the UK’s largest free outdoor festival, attracting over 250,000 visitors in 2007.
Cardiff hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1883, 1899, 1938, 1960, 1978, 2008 and 2018. Cardiff is unique in Wales in having two permanent stone circles used by the Gorsedd of Bards during Eisteddfodau. The original circle stands in Gorsedd Gardens in front of the National Museum while its 1978 replacement is situated in Bute Park. Since 1983, Cardiff has hosted the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, a world-renowned event on the opera calendar which is held every two years. The city also hosts smaller events.
Cardiff is the Welsh base for the main national broadcasters (BBC Cymru Wales, ITV Wales and S4C). A locally based television station, Made in Cardiff, is also based in the city centre. Major filming studios in Cardiff include the BBC’s Roath Lock Studios and Pinewood Studios Wales.
Several contemporary television programmes and films are filmed in and/or set in Cardiff such as Casualty, Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood,Merlin, Class, The Valleys, Upstairs Downstairs, A Discovery of Witches, His Dark Materials, Being Human, The Story of Tracy Beaker, Wizards vs Aliens, Sex Education and Sherlock.
The main local newspaper is the South Wales Echo; the national paper is the Western Mail. Both are based in Park Street in the city centre. Capital Times, Echo Extra and the South Wales edition of Metro are also based and distributed in the city. There are several magazines, including Primary Times and a monthly papur bro, and a Welsh-language community newsletter called Y Dinesydd (The Citizen). Radio stations serving the city and based in Cardiff include Capital FM (South Wales), Heart (South and West Wales), BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, Nation Radio, Radio Cardiff, Smooth Radio (Wales) and Xpress Radio.
The Principality Stadium was one of the first six British landmarks to be fully mapped on Google Street View as a 360-degree virtual tour.
Cardiff hosts many high-profile sporting events at local, national and international level and in recognition of the city’s commitment to sport for all was awarded the title of European Capital of Sport 2014. Organised sports have been held in the city since the early 19th century.national home sporting fixtures are nearly always played in the city. All Wales’ multi-sports agencies and many of the country’s sports governing bodies have their headquarters in Cardiff and the city’s many top quality venues have attracted world-famous sports events, sometimes unrelated to Cardiff or to Wales. In 2008/09, 61% of Cardiff residents regularly participated in sport and active recreation, the highest percentage in 22 local authorities in Wales.
Rugby union fans around the world have long been familiar with the old National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park, and its successor the Principality Stadium, which hosted the FA Cup for six years (from 2001 to 2006) it took to rebuild Wembley Stadium. In 2009, Cardiff hosted the first Ashes cricket test between England and Australia to be held in Wales. Cardiff hosted eight football matches of the London 2012 Olympics.
Cardiff City F.C. (founded 1899 as Riverside AFC) played their home games at Ninian Park from 1910 until the end of the 2008–09 season. The club’s new home is the Cardiff City Stadium, which they initially rented to the Cardiff Blues, the city’s professional rugby union team, the Blues returning to the Arms Park in 2012. Cardiff City have played in the English Football League since the 1920–21 season, climbing to Division 1 after one season. Cardiff City are the only non-English team to have won the FA Cup, beating Arsenal in the 1927 final at Wembley Stadium. They were runners up to Portsmouth in the 2008 final, losing 1–0 at the new Wembley Stadium. In the 2013/14 and 2018/19 seasons Cardiff City played in the English Premier League.
Cardiff Metropolitan University F.C. of the Athletic Union of Cardiff Metropolitan University, based in Cyncoed, play in the Cymru Premier, having been promoted from Welsh League Division One in 2016. They were winners of the Welsh League Cup for the 2018–19 season.
Cardiff has numerous smaller clubs including Bridgend Street A.F.C., Caerau (Ely) A.F.C., Cardiff Corinthians F.C., Cardiff Grange Harlequins A.F.C., and Ely Rangers A.F.C., which all play in the Welsh football league system.
Sport Wales National Centre, Cardiff, headquarters of Sport Wales, the Welsh Sports Association and the Federation of Disability Sport Wales
In addition to men’s football teams Cardiff City Ladies of the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division are based in the city. Teams in the Welsh Premier Women’s Football League are Cardiff Met. Ladies, Cyncoed Ladies and Cardiff City.
During the 1990s, London-based football club Wimbledon FC expressed interest in relocating to Cardiff, having been without a home of their own since exiting Plough Lane stadium in 1991 and sharing with Crystal Palace FC at Selhurst Park. The relocation of the club to Cardiff did not happen; in 2003, the club moved to Milton Keynes and a year later rebranded as Milton Keynes Dons.
Cardiff Arms Park (Welsh: Parc yr Arfau Caerdydd), in central Cardiff, is among the world’s most famous venues—being the scene of three Welsh Grand Slams in the 1970s (1971, 1976 and 1978) and six Five Nations titles in nine years—and was the venue for Wales’ games in the 1991 Rugby World Cup.
The Arms Park has a sporting history dating back to at least the 1850s, when Cardiff Cricket Club (formed 1819) relocated to the site. The ground was donated to Cardiff CC in 1867 by the Marquess of Bute. Cardiff Cricket Club shared the ground with Cardiff Rugby Football Club (founded 1876) — forming Cardiff Athletic Club between them — until 1966, when the cricket section moved to Sophia Gardens. Cardiff Athletic Club and the Welsh Rugby Union established two stadia on the site—Cardiff RFC played at their stadium at the northern end of the site, and the Wales national rugby union team played international matches at the National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park, which opened in 1970.
The National Stadium was replaced by the 74,500 capacity Millennium Stadium (Welsh: Stadiwm y Mileniwm) in 1999—in time for the 1999 Rugby World Cup—and is home stadium to the Wales national rugby and football teams for international matches. In addition to Wales’ Six Nations Championship and other international games, the Principality Stadium held four matches in the 2007 Rugby World Cup and six FA Cup finals (from the 2001–02 to 2005–06 seasons) while Wembley Stadium was being rebuilt.
Cardiff Cricket Club was formed in 1819 and Glamorgan County Cricket Club has competed as a first-class county since 1921. Its headquarters and ground is the SWALEC Stadium, Sophia Gardens, since moving from Cardiff Arms Park in 1966. The Sophia Gardens stadium underwent multimillion-pound improvements since being selected to host the first “England” v Australia Test match of the 2009 Ashes series. The Hundred franchise team Welsh Fire is also based at the stadium.
Cardiff has a long association with boxing, from ‘Peerless’ Jim Driscoll — born in Cardiff in 1880 — to more recent, high-profile fights staged in the city. These include the WBC Lennox Lewis vs. Frank Bruno heavyweight championship fight at the Arms Park in 1993, and many of Joe Calzaghe’s fights, between 2003 and 2007.
Cardiff’s professional ice hockey team, the Cardiff Devils, plays in the 3,000-seat Ice Arena Wales in the Cardiff International Sports Village. It plays in the 12-team professional Elite Ice Hockey League. Founded in 1986, it was one of the most successful British teams in the 1990s.
Cardiff’s only American-flag football team is the Hurricanes. It won the British Championship in 2014 after falling short by 2 points in a quarter-final to eventual winners, the London Rebels, the previous year. It is based at Roath Recreational Ground.
The 1958 Commonwealth Games were hosted by Cardiff. These involved 1,130 athletes from 35 national teams competing in 94 events. One of the venues for those Games—The Wales Empire Swimming Pool—was demolished in 1998 to make way for the Principality Stadium. The GBP32m Cardiff International Pool in Cardiff Bay, opened to the public on 12 January 2008 — part of the GBP1bn International Sports Village (ISV) — is the only Olympic-standard swimming pool in Wales. When complete, the ISV complex will provide Olympic standard facilities for sports including boxing and fencing, gymnastics, judo, white water events (including canoeing and kayaking) and wrestling as well as a snow dome with real snow for skiing and snowboarding, an arena for public ice skating and ice hockey and a hotel. Some of the sports facilities at the ISV were to be used as training venues for the London 2012 Olympics.
A stage of Wales Rally GB, hosted inside the Principality Stadium
The Principality Stadium hosts motor-sport events such as the World Rally Championship, as part of Wales Rally GB. The first indoor special stages of the World Rally Championship were held at the Principality Stadium in September 2005 and have been an annual event since. The British Speedway Grand Prix, one of the World Championship events, is held at the Millennium Stadium. While the track—a temporary, purpose built, shale oval—is not universally loved, the venue is considered the best of the World Championship’s 11 rounds.